SANTA ANA, Cagayan: The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has put up a multi-billion peso fiber-optic infrastructure to attract the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry alongside its rise as a premier techno-zone in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific region,
Engr. Julian Gonzales, CEZA Santa Ana officer-in-charge, said the fiber optic infrastructure in the freeport is connected to the Tyco Global Network-Intra Asia (TGN-IA) submarine cabling system.
Gonzales said the system is recognized as among the best in Asia in terms of latency and capacity, and this connectivity plays a vital role in linking the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port (CSEZFP) to critical peering points in Asia such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam.
“By becoming a premier techno-zone, we aim to attract the BPO industry to invest in Santa Ana Town,” Gonzales said.
He said the necessary infrastructure and support facilities are ready and that companies in related industries have also conveyed their interest to invest in the Cagayan Freeport.
“We have also organized a BPO forum which seeks to convene the different sectors in Cagayan Valley and to prepare the region as the next BPO hub not only in the Philippines but also in the Asia-Pacific Region,” Gonzales said.
Joyce Marie Jayme-Calimag, CEZA public relations officer, said jobseekers have reason to be excited with the establishment of BPO firms at the ecozone.
“With this development, CEZA expects to generate thousands of full-time jobs over the next five years that will help address unemployment, especially among college graduates in the Cagayan Valley Region,” Calimag said.
She also explained that the Freeport is an ideal BPO investment destination not only for its strong and reliable connectivity but also due to the abundant and competitive labor force, ease of doing business and the generous fiscal incentives.
“We have access to human resources through the 27 higher education institutions (HEI) in the province of Cagayan wherein about 7,000 students graduate every year,” Calimag said.
She said the labor pool would also be further enhanced with the integration of curricula tailored to address the requirements for BPO operations, such as back-office financial transactions and medical transcriptions.
Located at the country’s northeastern tip, CEZA is a government-owned and -controlled corporation created by virtue of Republic Act 7922 or the “Cagayan Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.”
CEZA Administrator Jose Mari Ponce said the location is at the crossroads of international shipping lines and is thereby open to a number of lucrative markets which include Japan, China, the US West Coast, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
CEZA administers 54,119 hectares of land area, which encompasses the entire municipality of Santa Ana in Cagayan Province as well as Fuga, Barit and Mabbag islands in the municipality of Aparri.
“These areas are characterized by their untapped natural and economic resources,” Ponce said, adding that these areas are “poised to become one of the country’s most important agro-industrial, commercial, tourism, recreational and transhipment hubs.”
He said CEZA will be able to assist investors in enterprise registration, processing of working visas, labor recruitment and other matters to facilitate ease of doing business of an investor.
He explained that there are also incentives available for investors such as tax holidays of up to six years, a special tax rate of 5 percent of gross income in lieu of all local and national taxes, tax credit for foreign corporations, and tax and duty-free importation of articles, raw materials, capital goods, equipment and consumer items.